Don’t Sweat Summer Sweat Unless You Experience Additional Symptoms

Created on Tuesday, 19 July 2011 15:09

Contact: Collette DuValle, 317-221-2463

Wishard Health Services encourages the public to take it easy during summer heat wave

It’s smelly, sticky and just plain unflattering, yet at the same time, it is an important way for your body to regulate heat and keep the body at a comfortable temperature. It’s called sweat. And with Indiana the midst of a dangerous heat wave with very high humidity levels, sweating is one of the signs your body is hot.

Sweating occurs when the glands in your skin secrete a salty fluid called sweat, or perspiration. Sweating is a normal function that serves to cool your body, often in hot or humid environments or when you exercise.

While sweating is normal, and can vary from person to person, excessive sweating, or sweating at times that you typically would not, should be looked at more carefully, say doctors at Wishard Health Services.

“It is important to know what is normal for you. If you are outside doing yard work and it is 95 degrees then of course you are going to sweat,” said Dr. Rawle A. Seupaul, an emergency medicine physician at Wishard Health Services and associate professor for the IU School of Medicine. “On the other hand, if you are relaxing in an air conditioned room on the couch and watching a movie, you probably should not have to wipe your forehead unless there is a problem.”

Dr. Seupaul said that sudden and excessive sweating may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition such as a heart attack. He said to seek immediate medical care if you are sweating and experiencing other serious symptoms, such as a change in level of consciousness or alertness, passing out or unresponsiveness, vomiting, severe headache, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, or if you think you may be having a heart attack. As with any medical emergency, doctors recommend calling 911 immediately.

In addition, excessive sweating may be a symptom of an underlying disease, disorder or condition. The medical term for excessive sweating is hyperhidrosis (overactive thyroid).

If you determine that your excessive sweating is not sudden and does not accompany any other symptoms, then there are certain steps that can be taken to limit what Dr. Seupaul describes as “normal sweating.” The first step is to find the best deodorant or antiperspirant that works for you. Doctors say that if your body tends to produce excessive perspiration, then you should generally try to avoid coffee, tea, alcoholic drinks and spicy foods, in particular. All of these stimulate the production of sweat.

According to physicians, the best fluids to drink to prevent sweating and dehydration are water and sports drinks. A person should try to rehydrate every 15 to 20 minutes.